- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Offense falls flat
Question of the Day
SEATTLE -- Forget about the late touchdown drive, which ultimately did little more than pad some offensive stats. Those trying to figure out where it all went wrong for the Washington Redskins yesterday need only look at the first 16 minutes of their 20-10 NFC playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
During that span, the Redskins offense took the field five times, and each time they went three-and-out.
By the time punter Derrick Frost made his fifth appearance in just more than a quarter, Washington's offense had truly hit rock bottom: five series, 21 yards, no first downs, no hope.
"Tough way to start a football game," quarterback Mark Brunell said. "It's tough to establish any momentum or get anything going. I think that hurt us."
Brunell once again was right in the middle of the Redskins' misery. One week after escaping Tampa Bay with a victory despite throwing for just 41 yards, he opened yesterday's game a pitiful 2-for-7 for 3 yards.
"We were excited to come out and play hard, and they just stopped us," H-back Chris Cooley said. "And that kind of ended it for us."
True, the Redskins trailed just 7-3 at halftime, thanks to some stellar defense, and the outcome wasn't sealed until the final minutes. But the way Washington's offense -- particularly Brunell -- struggled to get anything going, there wasn't much reason to believe things were going to suddenly turn around.
Redskins players cited any number of reasons for their offensive ineptitude. They had terrible early field position. The Seahawks stacked the line of scrimmage with as many as eight defenders, stifling running back Clinton Portis and daring Brunell to pass. Washington's receiving corps was so banged up at one point that Jimmy Farris was forced to line up alongside Santana Moss.
"You want your best guys in there," Brunell said. "We've had a lot of injuries, it's unfortunate. But that's the time of the year. A lot of guys are banged up."
Including the 35-year-old quarterback. Despite enjoying a brief career revival earlier this season, Brunell looked worn down by the end. He sprained a ligament in his right knee three weeks ago, and his arm strength seemed to diminish down the stretch.
Brunell was spared a world of criticism for last week's offensive struggles against the Buccaneers, but it was hard to escape the questions following yesterday's loss. Though he finished with a respectable passing line -- 22-for-37, 242 yards and a touchdown -- much of that came during a frantic fourth-quarter rally.
At the end of the third quarter, Brunell was 11-for-26 for 89 yards and only the late charge kept him from a ninth consecutive game with fewer than 200 passing yards.
"That is my responsibility," coach Joe Gibbs said. "Obviously, I think we want to be more productive than what we were in the playoffs. That will be one of the things we look hard at. Offensively, how can we do a better job?"
The Redskins should benefit from returning nearly everyone on offense next season, including Brunell, who is unlikely to face the kind of training-camp challenge from Patrick Ramsey he did last summer. Gibbs continues to throw his full support at the veteran quarterback, and perhaps that familiarity and trust will translate into a more consistent offensive attack in 2006.
"We've come a long way since last year," Brunell said. "Hopefully, this will be a stepping stone for this football team. I think we've got great talent, I think we've got guys with great character, all the things you want. I hope we can keep this group intact. It's difficult to do nowadays. But if we can, I expect some good things next year."
By David Keene
Allowing states to innovate could reduce dependency on bureaucracy
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia's gay marriage ban
- Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq